“How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” -Romans 10:14
Have you ever wondered what Paul would do if he lived in this day and age? I imagine it would go something like, “Hey Titus, could you please send an email to the Galatians and just encourage them”. “Timothy, would you Facebook the congregation in Corinth and let them know that I would like to Skype them tomorrow night at seven”.
Don’t you love how the Lord can use anything to get His message of love and hope to people? Technology can be used to let people know how much the Lord loves them (for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should never perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16). It can also be used to disciple and encourage the believers.
As of the beginning of 2018, Israel’s population is 8,793,000. Of these statistics, it’s recorded that 2% are Christians. The problem with that is they are grouping Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Christian Arabs, (many who believe that they’re Christians just because they were born into a Christian family). In reality, if you count the ones that truly know and follow the Lord Jesus, the percentage is much smaller.
Above: An American tour group praying for their upcoming outreach with CC Tel Aviv.
The exciting part is the people in Israel that are giving their lives to the Lord has increased tremendously, and the acceptance of believers is growing. There are still many anti-missionaries, but it’s not as much of an accepted practice in Israel anymore. We are so blessed with Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv and the church plant in Haifa now being overseen by precious Israeli believers. They are doing an amazing job of teaching God’s Word and ministering to the poor. Your prayers are being answered, and your donations are still being used to support these congregations and their ministries to the poor.
We are now freed up, to focus on discipleship and church planting throughout Israel. We are so in awe of the Lord, as we watch the various doors He is opening. For example, one of the men who has helped us minister in Israel for years is an American. Stephen asked him to start a discipleship program with men from the Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv congregation. Several men signed up, and meet weekly for the discipleship. When this man had to return to America, he was able to continue the weekly discipleship program using FaceTime (similar to Skype).
Once a week the Israeli men go to our ministry apartment in Tel Aviv and are able to go through the discipleship program using modern technology. We bought a large screen TV to put in the ministry apartment. The men can see the American man that’s leading the discipleship program. They can discuss everything as if they’re all together in the same room. The men that attend weekly are so precious. For example one of the men is nearly 80 years old and still wants to know and understand more of God’s Word. Another man that is attending, his wife has been praying for years that he would become grounded in God’s Word and be the spiritual leader of their family.
The Jewish people are taught not to read the Bible themselves. That God sends spiritual leaders (Rabbis) to teach them. It’s been so humbling to watch the people reading the Bible themselves, learning how to study it and understand the meaning of what God’s telling them.
Above: Tour group playing worship at outreach on the beach.
God is using these discipleship programs. For example one of the men that was helping us in Haifa, is now a Calvary Chapel Pastor in Barcelona. Via Skype, he continued discipling people that had been attending the church plant in Haifa when he was there. One of the men that went through the discipleship program, Stephen asked a few months ago to start teaching the Haifa church plant. He is doing an amazing job. Aside from teaching weekly, he is also discipling several men.
One American woman, that ministers with us in Israel, is going through the discipleship program with the Israeli woman that is over the Calvary Chapel Women’s Ministry. They meet weekly via WhatsApp. This is helping the Israeli woman be more grounded in God’s Word and be better equipped to lead the women in Tel Aviv.
These are just a few of the discipleship programs that we currently have going on. We’ve also been praying for wisdom as far as Calvary Chapel church plants throughout Israel. Currently, there are three Calvary Chapels in Israel. Tel Aviv, Haifa, and in Katzrin where Pastor Steve Flores started it several years ago. The thing that we love about Calvary Chapel’s, is that they teach God’s Word by going through the whole Bible.
“…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” -1Corinthians 9:22
There are so many areas in Israel that do not have a congregation nearby. As we mentioned before, we receive emails from Israelis, both believers, and nonbelievers asking us if we would come to their area and teach them the Bible. This is a huge open door and we’ve been praying for wisdom on how to do this.
For example, a man that attended our congregation in Tel Aviv moved to Nayariyya (Israeli city closest to the Lebanon border). He said it’s difficult for him because he’s the only believer in his family and friends. He said there’s no congregation anywhere near him. Like many people in Israel, he doesn’t have a car. He keeps asking Stephen to start something in this area.
Another email we received was from someone in Kiryat Shmona (also near the Lebanese Border). In 2006, over 1,000 Rockets, shot from Lebanon, hit this city. Stephen and two other Calvary pastors went there during this war to give the people food, blankets etc.). The email we received from someone in this city said there were 20 people that wanted to study the Bible. Could we come and teach them a weekly Bible study.
Above: Calvary Tel Aviv receiving ministry supplies from CC of the Harbour.
Recently the Lord laid on Stephen’s heart to start a Church Online site geared specifically to the Jewish people. As Stephen’s teaching, there’s the capability for people to chat with each other. We have volunteers that help us in Israel, that will be monitoring the site and ready to pray with people or answer questions they may have concerning the Bible. We know from experience, that religious Jews, even Rabbis, would listen to Stephen’s teachings when they were on our website. They said it was safe because it was online and no one would know they were listening.
Our goal is two-fold. God promises His Word won’t come back void, so we want to teach His Word. It will help having people that can immediately pray and “talk” with people as they listen to the teaching. We know that being able to go to a congregation, hearing the teaching and having the fellowship is best. But when that’s not available, this can be a real blessing.
We are able to see the areas where people are tuned in to the teaching. Our prayer is that when we see several people in one area, we can bring them together and that they would eventually become a congregation.
Please keep this in prayer. We are going to start the first “Service” Friday, April 13, at 7:00 PM Israel time. There are many Jewish people in America that are also curious why we believe Jesus is the Messiah. We decided to also do Stephen’s teachings here in America on Saturday evenings at 7:00 PM. PST. If you’d like to visit our Church Online site, click here or go to http://shepherdslight.churchonline.org
Thank you so much for your prayers, we are excited to see what the Lord will do with this.
In His unfailing care,
Stephen & Patricia Apple
and the Shepherd’s Light team